Elizabeth Cole Jewelry Is Made to Be Seen, Even When Not Worn
Forget peacocking, parrots are the new bird mascots of the fashion set. That was our thought when we saw designer Stephanie Owen’s glitzy menagerie. Owen is the designer and founder of Elizabeth Cole jewelry, a collection of outsized statement pieces in rainbow shades that get smiles and create big looks. Her crystal feathered friends first caught our eye, but other charming characters and her elegant, classic danglers equally captivate. Fashion mavericks like Katy Perry and Mary J. Blige have also fallen for her flash.
When we spoke with Stephanie recently, we learned about her personal trove of costume jewelry, her love of interior design and how she displays her rhinestone stash around her artful home.
How did Elizabeth Cole begin?
I started the company in 2005. I’d been working in pubic relations in L.A. We styled celebrities and sent things to magazines. We were dressing the singer Joss Stone for a shoot—she was having a real boho moment. When we got there she said “we need some long necklaces,” à la Janis Joplin. I was already making my own beaded jewelry on the side, so I said “Yes, we’ve got jewelry like that.” And then I went to a flea market and some thrift stores and got some necklaces and ripped them apart and added things. I made these long necklaces that were awesome. Stone ended up wearing them to the Grammy’s during her performance with Melissa Etheridge. When I saw them on TV, I remember just screaming my head off. My neighbor came downstairs. And I said, “No, no, it’s fine. My jewelry is just on TV!” I mean, it was ridiculous. It wasn’t even a company yet. The necklaces ended up being featured in a lot of style magazines. So my boss at the time and I decided to start Elizabeth Cole jewelry. It’s my sister’s name.
Why are statement earrings having such a moment?
Earrings are far and away my favorite thing to design. Go big or go home: if you’re going to wear a statement piece of jewelry it might as well be pretty glorious. Earrings are not only on trend, but I personally like to wear them. Statement earrings add a bit of fun and sparkle without being a huge monetary commitment. Necklaces can fight with necklines, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Earrings are just the easiest thing to throw on and transform the look of your outfit.
What makes a great piece of costume jewelry?
It has to have some sort of pop. There’s something about when you’re designing a piece—like when you’re designing a room—there’s often a tweak that just has to be made. It’s different for every piece. If you’re decorating a room, there might be a bench at the end of the bed that brings the room together. Jewelry is the same way, a certain combination of colors of stones or textures. But mostly thought. Someone has to put thought into it.
Where do you get your ideas?
I take a lot of inspiration from interiors and gardens—and just as balance, texture and color make a room or a garden beautiful, so do those same elements make a piece of costume jewelry beautiful. We do so many colorful pieces, and that’s a direction we’re going that makes me really happy. They’re so fun. A lot of it also comes from the material, unique pieces that we find—stones, crystals, glass. Those make a piece come to life.
Who are some of your favorite jewelry designers?
Miriam Haskell, Larry Verba, Van Cleef & Arpels, Hattie Carnegie all make glorious, intricate jewelry, all in different ways.
It’s for fun. We’re not particularly serious. I love putting on jewelry that makes me smile, that’s how I feel about all the jewelry. I don’t want to alienate the more neutral styles, because there is a time for that. I mean, the pearl earrings are gorgeous, a twist on a classic look. But the parrots just make me giggle when I put them on.
You have quite the personal jewelry collection. And we’ve heard you display it around your home.
Oh yes, everywhere! On the stairs. I have little vignettes on my nightstand. On my side table I have these lamps with four necklaces around each of them. But most of it is in this enormous jewelry wardrobe. It’s just packed.
And is there a piece of jewelry that you wear a lot? Do you have a signature jewelry item?
Because we design so many pieces in a year, the jewelry I wear is constantly evolving. However, my vintage wedding ring and engagement ring, both of which I wear stacked with several other rings, are always on my fingers.
SHOP: Elizabeth Cole